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Worm your way into being a Beach Naturalist

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Actually… elaborate disguises or moonlight dances are not necessary. If you’d like to become a beach naturalist, opportunities begin around the Puget Sound over the next few weeks. Scroll below for more information.

Giant sea nymphs (Nereis sp.). Photo: Jeff Adams

Giant sea nymphs (Nereis sp.). Photo: Jeff Adams

Explosive Love

As for a moonlit nuptial dance, we need to chat with a sea nymph (Nereis sp.). Sea nymphs are large (some very creepily so!) worms that stretch out of their burrows and use inordinately fierce looking jaws to grab a nibble of algae or maybe a soft invertebrate. However, when the moon and tides and light are right, they have a different priority.

Kind of like a werewolf, their bodies change with the coming of the full moon. The once burrow-dwelling omnivore becomes an actively swimming, gutless baby-making machine called an epitoke. On full moons in the winter and summer, the males epitokes will vigorously swim from their holes and rise into the water column, shedding sperm as they go. Once the females sense the males in the water, they follow closely spewing eggs. The sperm and eggs are often released through ruptures in the body wall (ouch!). The close proximity of eggs and sperm help ensure many of the eggs will become fertilized, but mom and dad contribute to the next link in the food chain.

Sea nymph (Nereis sp.) epitoke/body-turned-egg-case. Photo: Jeff Adams

Epitoke remains with eggs oozing out the body wall. Photo: Jeff Adams

Ricketts’ words painted a fabulous image of the experience of coming across giant sea nymph worms in their nuptial fervor:
” Specimens may be nearly a meter long, and are broad in proportion — a likely source of sea-serpent yarns. To the night collector, already a bit jumpy because of weird noises, phosphorescent animals, and the ominous swish of surf, the appearance of one of these heteronereids swimming vigorously at the surface of the water must seem like the final attack of delirium tremens.” (Between Pacific Tides, 1939). … I had to look up delirium tremens… shudder!

In early March, just after the full moon, a volunteer brought the epitoke remains pictured here to a beach exploration and said they were all over her beach. Thanks for sharing!

During that same time on the beach, we got a closer look at another really cool worm…

Beach Scrap Castle

Above ground portion of 12"+ tube of an ornate tube worm (Diopatra ornata). Photo: Jeff Adams

Above ground portion of 12″+ tube of an ornate tube worm (Diopatra ornata). Photo: Jeff Adams

When you’re on a Puget Sound beach that’s not entirely dominated by gravel and cobble, you’re likely to encounter worm tubes sticking out of the sand. The tubes represent several of the nearly 1000 species of marine worms in our region. Particularly common in the lower intertidal is the jointed three-section tube worm. Unwieldy common name aside, it can be abundant enough to look like mini forest of leafless bamboo in the sand.

The tube of the ornate tube worm (Diopatra ornata) is well decorated by bits of plant, shell debris and algae and may be overlooked even when abundant. The tube is not as sturdy as some and may lay on the beach when the tide is out. Under the sand, the tube is much narrower, doesn’t have any decoration and feels like tough parchment. It can also extend a foot deep into the sand, giving the worm a safe place to retreat. As complex as the tube may be, the worm can abandon it and build a new on if need arises.

A diagram from the 1979 paper "The diet of worms: A study of Polycheate feeding guilds" by Fauchald and Jumars.

A diagram from the 1979 paper “The diet of worms: A study of Polycheate feeding guilds” by Fauchald and Jumars.

Ornate tube worms are thought to be scavengers but eat a lot of algae. In The diet of worms: A study of Polycheate feeding guilds (actually a really cool paper to cruise through), Fauchald and Jumars described the various things this tube worm has been observed eating, but clarified that it’s apparently not picky, “feeding experiments have shown that it will accept any plant or animal material, dead or alive, fresh or rotten (R.R. Emerson, pers. comm.).” Yum.

The image to the left is also from The diet of worms. When the tide’s out, you don’t get to see this kind of activity, but it’s fun to imagine a bunch of these worms bickering over who gets the best bit of the kelp.

Above ground portion of 12"+ tube of an ornate tube worm (Diopatra ornata). Photo: Jeff Adams

Head end and first 80 or so segments of an ornate tube worm. Photo: Jeff Adams

Finally, if you’re lucky enough to get a look at the beast inside the tube, you get to see that the tube isn’t the only ornate character in its life story. The five black-tipped feelers on the front of it’s head are purported to have smelling abilities though I couldn’t find any more detail on that.

The gills extend for scores of segments behind the head and look like skinny red Christmas trees with branches spiraling up toward the tip. The worm my have more than 100 segments beyond that.

Segments are apparently disposable since the worm can pinch off segments from its hind end, presumably to give a predator something to nibble on while the important bits head off to build a new tube.

Beach Naturalist Opportunities

Screen shot 2013-03-19 at 9.18.56 AMIf you’re in the Kitsap area, join me, other volunteers and guest experts at the Poulsbo Marine Science Center on Thursday evenings this spring. The Kitsap Beach Naturalist training starts March 28th and will include classes on the oceanography, invertebrates, seaweed and the nearshore environment’s form and function. You can print and fill out the form to the right or register online.

Similar opportunities are available all over the Puget Sound area.

If you don’t necessarily want to be part of a training and volunteer program, check with any of the groups above for naturalist led beach exploration opportunities. Hope to see you in a classroom or on the beach!

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets, FaceBook and video posts, send email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.

 

 

 


Whale puke and beach cleanup

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Flyer for September 15, 2012 beach cleanups on Sinclair Inlet (Port Orchard and Bremerton, WA). Click to see a larger version.

First of all, this Saturday (9/15/2012) is an opportunity for you and your family or friends to  join others all over the world as we put a dent in the garbage that litters our shorelines and impacts sea life when they eat it or get caught in or smothered by it. Even people may be in harms way from large, sharp or toxic debris.

Often you’ll find sea life living or in marine garbage. They may be happy, but their “home” also serves as an unnatural hazard to other sea life and ultimately may not suit their own needs. I once found a board floating on the beach. On the underside was a cluster of midshipman eggs. Daddy midshipman attracted a lady to lay eggs for him to guard… a tough job when his nest floats away. Now that the wood is gone, he’s more likely to find a nice stable boulder.

If you’re in the Bremerton/Port Orchard neighborhood or want to come over for a visit, check out this flyer image above for details on Sinclair Inlet cleanups.

You can also visit the Ocean Conservancy’s “Sign Up to Clean Up” website, enter your city/town, and find cleanups near you. You can also propose your own cleanup site.

Unfortunately, trash from enormous to miniscule is very abundant on beaches an in the water worldwide (explore NOAA’s Marine Debris Program). However, there are other gems that can be found on the beach.

Chunks of ambergris. Photo: Peter Kaminski

A young boy in the UK recently found a $60,000′ish chunk of “whale sick”… to use the British terminology. If you read and have a clear memory of chapter’s 91 and 92 of Melville’s Moby Dick,… well anyway, it tells of the procurement of a some ambergris from a sperm whale obtained by “unrighteous cunning” and says of ambergris  “Who would think, then, that such fine ladies and gentlemen should regale themselves with an essence found in the inglorious bowels of a sick whale! Yet so it is.”

Ambergris was historically used in the production of perfumes and still is in limited, but extremely expensive quantities. It was also used to flavor food. Ambergris eggs and muktuk? (A poor play on green eggs and ham… since ambergris eggs apparently don’t go well with pig).

The ambergris is produced in the intestines of sperm whales and typically passed out as feces. If it’s too large, then it may be puked up. It is described as starting with an distinct  aroma of feces (yum), but over months and years of floating on the ocean becomes uniquely sweet, marine and earthy… and edible.

Dig around for more information on this unique relationship between humans and a marine resources. Fascinating stuff! Ambergris is mostly found in the Atlantic Ocean and the Western Pacific, but as you’re cleaning the beach this weekend, keep an eye and nostril out for a waxy, gray rock that has an unusual aroma. You may find your own windfall of whale discharge.

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets, FaceBook and video posts, send email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.

 


Beach Walk on the big screen and jellies in the water

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Beach Walk DVD front and back covers. By: Robyn Ricks, Washington Sea Grant

In recognition Puget Sound Starts Here Month, Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido is sponsoring a showing of Beach Walk: A Naturalist’s Review at the Dragonfly Cinema (822 Bay Street, Port Orchard) on Thursday, May 24th at 6:30. As an added bonus, we’ll be exploring the Port of Bremerton’s Port Orchard Marina‘s sea life immediately after. As part of the Sustainable Cinema Series, this showing is offered free of charge, and donations are gratefully accepted.

Beach Walk was produced by Nancy Sefton of Unicorn Studios with participation by Washington Sea Grant and WSU Kitsap Extension. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to narrate and poke my head onto the screen a few times. It’s original intent was to be a refresher video for volunteer beach naturalists before they participate in a beach exploration with the public. However, the 35 minute film has appealed to a much broader audience, giving a flavor of the seaweeds and animals you can find on Puget Sound beaches when the tide is out.

You can preview or watch the film on YouTube in 3 parts.

  • Part 1 – 5 min, introduction and best beach behavior
  • Part 2 – 15 min, sea life of cobble/boulder beaches
  • Part 3 – 14 min, sand/mud beach life and things you can do anywhere in the watershed that protect marine habitats

After the film and a brief discussion, we’re going to head across the street to the public entrance of the Port Orchard Marina. I hadn’t been to the marina before, so I checked it out last week and found lots of sea life treasures.

In particular, I was struck by the jellies, finding about a dozen species. Many people have seen the moon jellies and even the large, red lions mane or yellow fried egg jellies. But look closely and the sea is alive with a variety of these predatory, floating, gelatinous anemone cousins.

The compilation below shows several species. From left to right, top to bottom…

  • aggregating jelly (Eutonina indicans) with it’s dangling mouth.
  • gregarious jelly (Clytia gregarium) is very similar to the aggregating. These can be so abundant the water surface is writhing with them. They also make a good meal for larger jellies.
  • eight-strand jelly (Melicertum octocostatum) has 8 large sex organs around its body. It’s a weak swimmer. Trade off for reproductive prowess?
  • red-eyed jelly (Polyorchis penicillatus) has tiny, light sensitive red spots where the tentacles meet the body. The spots help it figure out which way is up in the water.
  • sea gooseberry (Pleurobrachia bachei) has two feeding tentacles that can stretch to 8x the length of its body. Since it’s a ctenophore and not technically a jelly, it has 8 rows of tiny comb plates that wave to help it swim. In the sunlight, they make a beautiful pulsating rainbow.
  • many-ribbed jelly (Aequorea sp.) looks like a bicycle wheel. Can we rename it spoke jelly?

Opalescent nudibranch taking a slime across my hand. Photo: Jeff Adams

I also encountered several gorgeous opalescent nudibranchs (sea slugs), one of which was floating bottom up on the water’s surface (maybe looking for a new home?). I gave it a perch on my hand before putting it on the dock next to a small anemone (sorry anemone). They eat hydroids, little coral-like creatures, but may nibble the occasional anemone or sea squirt.

We may see these creatures at the Port Orchard Marina after the show, and we will certainly see others…. rain or shine. Hope to see you there. Be sure to dress for the weather and enjoy spring!

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets, FaceBook and video posts, send email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.


“Ocean Frontiers”: Working together can really work!

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Ocean Frontiers doesn’t have a dragonfly inspired alien or a mutant invasive snakehead fish (I love that stuff!), but it is an opportunity to see some inspiring examples of how stakeholders with very different interests can address issues in ocean conservation… to mutual benefit.

Ocean Frontiers logo courtesy of ocean-frontiers.org.

After a brief introduction, the case studies begin with an amazing effort in Boston Harbor to understand why ships and whales are having unfortunate encounters. Really cool whale research follows that then informs decision making by shipping and energy companies. The results and the process are a model for better, more informed management of our marine environments.

Protection efforts in the Florida keys and off the Oregon Coast follow, but in the middle is an example that really came home to me. I grew up on a small farm along the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River Delta faces a number of ecological challenges, which in turn impact important fishery opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico. Who comes to the rescue? Iowa farmers.

I was really struck by the image of a bunch of Iowa farmers (could have easily been my childhood neighbors and friends) on a fishing charter in the Delta, 1000+ miles from their crops and cows. They were reeling in something other than bass, crappie and catfish while learning about the connections between their agricultural choices and the distant fisheries in the Gulf.

There are so many perspectives that come into play as we engage in efforts to rehabilitate and protect the Puget Sound (and all of the Salish Sea), while maintaining an economy, culture and lifestyle that is dependent on estuary’s watershed and resources. Ocean Frontiers provides examples of ocean management that can embolden us to imagine how our perspectives can work together to mutually beneficial ends.

If you missed the Bainbridge Island screening in early February and the Seattle screening last week, opportunities to catch the film (and ensuing discussions) remain. The Ocean Frontiers’ website’s find a screening page indicates a showing in Bellingham April 25 (umm, that would be shortly after I post this). Also looks like it will be screened in Olympia June 9th. Click on the pin drop for more details on that showing.

Tomorrow evening (April 26 @ 6:30PM) a Port Orchard screening is sponsored by Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido and held at the Dragonfly Cinema in downtown Port Orchard at 822 Bay Street. A discussion will follow, lead by Washington Sea Grant’s Marine Habitat Specialist, Jim Brennan. Cost is only a suggested donation. I hope you can take advantage and join in an atmosphere of collaboration that can lead us into a future of healthy oceans and prosperous societies.

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets, FaceBook and video posts, send email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.


Be a star: Become a Kitsap Beach Naturalist

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Four species of sea squirt from the Bremerton Marina. Photo: Jeff Adams

  • How can sea squirts be our cousins?
  • Why do barnacles hold the record for masculine endowment?
  • Why is nori so good for you and sweet kombu so tasty?
  • What would a skeleton shrimp Halloween costume look like?
  • Why doesn’t muscle stand a chance against hydro power?

It’s my belief that whether life led to a career in construction, law, food services, biomedicine, administration…, everyone who has ever wanted to be a marine biologist should have that opportunity. I’m not talking about a graduate education and cruises on the Calypso, but you can learn more than the 99% and share your wonder with others by becoming part of the Kitsap Beach Naturalists or other programs around the Puget Sound (Seattle Aquarium, South Sound Estuary Association, Island County Beach Watchers, Harbor WildWatch, Bainbridge Beach Naturalists).

Kitsap Beach Naturalists explaining sea star tube feet to beach goers. Photo: Jeff Adams

Starting Friday March 23rd, join the Kitsap Beach Naturalists for our 5th year of  training, and learn more about some of the questions above. Classes are Fridays from March 23rd to May 11, 2012 at the Norm Dicks Government Building in Bremerton. You can register ($60 for materials) by contacting WSU Kitsap Extension at 360-337-7157. You can get the flier online (click here) or feel free to contact me or comment to this blog with questions.

Volunteers who have completed the training have a variety of citizen science projects (eelgrass, dead birds, beach diversity,…), beach and dock explorations and youth and family outreach opportunities they can be a part of.

We’ve expanded the training this year to include more field opportunities and more speakers, covering everything from intertidal invertebrates to seaweed cosmetics. I look forward to meeting some of you for what should be another great year of celebrating and understanding the shorelines that are such an important part of our contemporary and traditional Pacific Northwest culture.

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets, FaceBook and video posts, send email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.

 


Drawn from the deep

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Public entrance to the Bremerton Marina. Photo: Jeff Adams

OK, so we’re unlikely to witness the rise of a leviathan, but tomorrow evening (Saturday 2/18 from 7:30-8:30), you can join Kitsap Beach Naturalists, along with me and my WSU Kitsap Extension colleague Peg Tillery at the Bremerton Marina (map). We’re taking a break from the night time low tides to explore the subtidal and free-swimming life that can be enjoyed on almost any floating dock, at any time. Night time on a dock can bring even more sea life to the surface with the aid of a bright light.

You never know what might respond to lights pointed into the water at night. Ever watched squid jiggers at work – often in the cold, often in the wet, always in the dark? Their porcupine lures rise and sink through the water in or around a column of bright light. Schools of squid are attracted by the lights and often can’t help but embrace that brightly colored tube, entangling themselves in the lure’s spiny skirt. The jiggers are taking advantage of the many-armed tasty’s attraction to light.

Opalescent or market squid (Loligo opalescens) near the surface at Bremerton Marina. Photo: Washington Sea Grant

What else will be attracted to the light? Many creatures spend the daylight hours below the photic zone – the top layer of the water where there’s enough light to support plant growth but also enough to be easily seen by predators. Every evening they come to the surface to feed under the safety of darkness, then return to the deep as the sun rises.

The spring blooms are yet to arrive but some small organisms and even some jellies still float around near the surface. Imagine you’re a tiny copepod (about as long as the thickness of a dime) and you’re happily filtering tiny particles out of the water. Leviathan being something of a matter of scale, the hairs near your cycloptic eye may rise in fear as dusk settles in and from below swims an torpedo-shaped arrow worm (Sagitta elegans). It’s 40 times your size (about the length of a football field compared to a tall human) with rows of hooked hunting spines on either side its head (ironically not unlike the squid jig). Yikes! … Back to your human self, just shake off your imagination and remember the arrow worm’s only an inch and a half or so long.

Northwest ugly clam (Entodesma navicula) on the Bremerton Marina docks. Photo: Washington Sea Grant

No guarantees on what we’ll see swimming in the water, but there’s always a spectacular show to take in on the submerged areas of the dock.

Most animals and plants on the docks don’t move through the open water and rely on the hard surfaces of the dock to give them a strong foothold that they would otherwise only find from rocks below the exchanging tide. Among these will be seaweeds, chitons, anemones, crabs, barnacles, stars, cucumbers, urchins, slugs and squirts… and (my personal favorite) the ugly clam.

Plumose anemones (Metridium) and green false jingle (Pododesmus macroschisma) adorning a pipe at the Bremerton Marina. Photo: Jeff Adams

Clams on a floating dock you may ask? This is no ordinary clam. In a natural environment, you’d find the ugly clam (Entodesma navicula) growing out of a crevice or between rocks, it’s shell deforming to fit its surroundings. It’s far easier to find these clams on docks where they are frequent inhabitants.

Another bivalve that lives on docks an form fits to its home is the false jingle shell (Pododesmus macroschisma). It’s bottom shell has a hole through which it attaches to it’s substrate. It also has bright orange lips that you can see while it’s feeding.

Speaking of lips, maybe we’ll be lucky enough to see a scallop or two flashing their bright smile.

Smiling scallop at the Bremerton Marina. Photo: Washington Sea Grant

Like the squid jiggers, it’s likely to be cold, wet, and dark, so bring flashlights or headlamps (something with a strap so it doesn’t fall in the water). Life jackets are a good idea for kids. Wear warm, waterproof clothes so you can even get down on belly if you like and get a closer look off the dock.

If you can’t join us tomorrow, go to the public docks nearest you any time they’re open. If you see something cool, let me know and even send a picture. I love that stuff and am happy to let you know more about what you found!

We’ll also be doing this again, so if you’d like to be kept in the loop, please contact me or Lisa Rillie 360-337-7157 x 3244 or lrillie@co.kitsap.wa.us. Happy dock exploring!

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets, FaceBook and video posts, send email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.


Whales and bugs, snails and slugs, seaweed and salmon too

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

This is a plug. In part because Washington Sea Grant is a sponsor, but in larger part because this is a great opportunity not to be missed and to be encouraged into the future!

Inspired by the South Sound Science Symposium and Island County’s Sound Waters, Kitsap Beach Watchers volunteers and staff are bringing the first of such events to the residents, scientist, managers and policy makers on the West Sound (Kitsap Peninsula, though all are welcome from far and wide) – Water Courses: Connecting West Sound.

Since the registration fee includes lunch, beverages and a full day of presentations by and discussions with local and regional experts, this is a heck of a deal. The event also gives you a chance to get off the beaten path and explore historic Keyport. With over 36 speakers, Water Courses is the largest all ages water education event held on the Kitsap Peninsula. Online registration is available (www.kitsap.wsu.edu) or contact Lisa Rillie at 360-337-7157, lrillie@co.kitsap.wa.us.

Some details, speakers and topics…

Friday, October 14, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm: Naval Undersea Museum Auditorium, Keyport
The Friday symposium is a bit more technical than the Saturday series of workshops. The nine speakers for the day range in experience from Suquamish High School students (presenting work on ocean acidification and shellfish survival) to Dr. Robert Johnson (Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel member and Naval researchers). Topics are generally themed around pollution (sources, movement and prevention). $30 for the day; $22.50 if attending both; lunch included.

Saturday, October 15, 9:00 am to 3:30 pm: Keyport Community Church, Keyport
The Saturday workshops are a great way to become acquainted with some of the sea life, stream life and issues within our watershed. Plant and animal topics range from seaweed and landscaping to snails, bats and whales. Broader topics include salmon restoration, reducing pharmaceuticals in the water, understanding the fish you eat, citizen science, and farm management. There are so many great speakers and topics that deciding that you should register and attend is the easy part. Choosing only 6 of the 36 topics may prove more challenging! $25 for the day or $22.50 if attending both days; lunch included.

This is a great opportunity to learn and share about water and watershed related issues on the Kitsap Peninsula. In its first year, we hope this event will only get stronger with your participation and feedback. Hope to see you there! Jeff

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets and videos, email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.


Express your inner scientist

Friday, July 8th, 2011
  • Get home from a day’s labor, crack a beer, sit on the porch and appreciate a butterfly nectaring on a nearby flower and the evening summer sun that makes a dragonfly glow while it hunts with incredible speed and precision, eating on the fly.
  • Is that bush blooming already?
  • You just won a tough case and you’re doing your best Leonardo DiCaprio against the forward fence of the ferry observation deck, a smile on your face, the wind rushing by. You look into the water… SMACK! (no, not sea gull poop to the side of the head or a disgruntled defendant… we’re talkin’ jellies!).

What do these scenarios have in common? Citizen scientists. Elements of science may remain in an ivory tower, but in ever-increasing numbers and in very accessible ways, scientists and managers are harnessing the interests and time of every Tom, Dick and Jane to explore difficult issues like climate change, water quality and habitat loss. We can also add to the understanding of the what, where and when for our favorite groups of critters in ways we were never able to in the past.

All fair game for easy reporting by citizen scientists. Clockwise from top left: lion's mane jelly, hermit thrush, small magpie moth (non-native) and common whitetail dragonfly. Photos: Jeff Adams

There are lots of opportunities out there, but I’ll highlight a few of my favorites. Under the unofficial category of “report what you see, where you see it, when you want to”…

Don’t have experience in identifying critters? No worries. Some programs simply require you to know/report on a single species or, in the case of Sound Citizen, to collect and return a sample. For butterflies, birds, dragonflies and jellies, there are excellent physical and online guides and identification resources available. On top of that, people like me love to get the email with a subject line “what’s this?”.

I recently posted a YouTube video that should help with common jellyfish ID’s. With all the ferry riders, dock and beach visitors, boaters, divers, harvesters, anglers and shoreline homeowners in the Puget Sound and Salish Sea… we should be able to help scientists at jellywatch.org better understand jellies and blooms in our region. It’s an area of increasing interest as our climate and ocean activities evolve.

The opportunistic reporting of the list above can give a scientist valuable information in part by sheer volume of data. Volunteers willing and able to put in more time can get involved in a project that typically includes some form of training and standardized protocols and reporting. Some excellent examples in our region include…

Bainbridge Beach Naturalists (part of the Kitsap Beach Naturalist program) conduct a profile assessment of the beach slope, substrate, plants and animals. Amazing what you see when you look close! Photo: Jeff Adams

Other programs like  Nature Mapping are geared toward schools, but also give individuals an opportunity to report findings. You can even explore lots of potential projects on your own at sites like scienceforcitizens.net and citizensciencecentral.org or like citsci.org for projects geared specifically toward invasive species.

Washington Sea Grant will go live with a Washington-specific citizen science clearinghouse some time in the next year. Or you can just contact local organizations to explore opportunities. In Kitsap you might start with me at Washington Sea Grant (contact info below), or with organizations such WSU Beach Watchers or the Stillwaters Environmental Education Center.

The best of the citizen science networks provide something in return for our efforts. No, not a key chain or a shopping tote (although some provide those as well). We get maps and checklists and image collections and newsletters and data analysis and publications… All of which reflect our contributions to scientific exploration and the greater body of scientific knowledge. None of which would have happened without our participation.

COASST is an excellent example of providing feedback to volunteers. In return for their dead bird surveys, COASST volunteers receive a newsletter explaining some of the trends in the data and featuring natural history information about sea and shoreline birds. … Plus, volunteers get cool bird postcards (pictures tend to be of the live birds and a bit more attractive then the dead ones). A free COASST training will be hosted by Washington Sea Grant and WSU Kitsap Extension in Bremerton on July 28th (RSVP to info@coasst.org). Other dates and opportunities are available on the COASST calendar.

Thanks for your interest in contributing to the body of scientific knowledge that we need to make informed decisions and to effectively care for the Puget Sound, Salish Sea and beyond. … Oh, gotta go… I need to chase down a dragonfly!

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets and videos, email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.


Terrific Tides and Getting Crab Crazy!

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Pulling a crab pot can require some muscle. Photo: Jeff Adams

Dust off the crab pots (both the one with holes and the one with boiling water), it’s crab season! The long awaited day has arrived (as of 7:00am today, 7/1), and many will feast on freshly caught crabs for the holiday. After all, Dungeness crabs are as Northwest’erican as espresso and apple pie. Don’t forget the red rock crab though. It’s tougher to crack, but abundant and mighty tasty.

Chris Dunagan shared a story on the recreational harvest this crab season, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has a one stop recreational crabbing website with a 4 minute video, regulatory, harvesting, cleaning and cooking tips and more. A few things to note…

- A fishing license and crab endorsement are required. (Don’t forget you need to pay to get into Washington State Parks now.)
- You can keep up to 11 crabs a day!

  • 5 hard-shelled, male Dungeness crabs and
  • 6 hard shelled red rock crabs (male or female).

- Use pots (with degradable cords to prevent ghost fishing) or collect by hand.
- Don’t forget to RECORD AND REPORT your catch! (Says the guy who’s committed to doing his part for the fishery… and to not paying the $10 penalty again this year.)

While your on your way to or from your favorite destination, check out some of these excellent holiday weekend beach walks and events. Have a crabby day! JEff

A barnacle encrusted red rock crab. If you get a crab like this, you might as well eat the barnacles too... taste a bit like shrimp. Photo: Jeff Adams

This week’s minus tides for the Central Puget Sound (remember you may need to add up to an hour or more for out of the way fingers like Dyes Inlet, and much of South Puget Sound)…

  • 7/1 Fri; -2.6 ~11:30am
  • 7/2 Sat; -2.7 ~12:15pm
  • 7/3 Sun; -2.4 ~1:00pm
  • 7/4 Mon; -1.8 ~1:40pm
  • 7/5 Tues; -0.7 ~2:15pm

Kitsap Beach Naturalists
- Silverdale Waterfront Park, one of my favorite urban Kitsap beaches, Saturday July 2nd from 12:30-2:30pm
- Scenic Beach State Park, Seabeck, WA, July 2, Noon-2:00pm
- Fay Bainbridge Park, Bainbridge Island, WA, July 3, Noon-2:00pm

Harbor WildWatch (Gig Harbor and the south of Kitsap Peninsula)
- Kopachuck and Penrose State Parks, July 1, 10:30am-2:30pm
- Penrose and Joemma State Parks, July 2, 11am-3pm
- Kopachuck and Penrose State Parks and Narrows Park, July 3, 11:30am-3:30pm
- Kopachuck and Penrose State Parks, July 4, 12:30pm-4:30pm

Celebrate Oakland Bay – Family Fun with the Stars (site with link to flyer)
- Walker County Park, Shelton, July 3, 11am-4pm

Vashon Low Tide Festival
- Point Robinson Light Station and Park, July 2, 10am-3pm

South Sound Beach Naturalists
- Priest Point Park, June 2, 12:15pm – 3:15pm.
- Burfoot and Tolmie State Parks, June 3, 12:30pm – 3:30pm

Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalists are on a variety of east Sound Beaches
- Richmond Beach, Carkeek Park, Golden Gardens, South Alki, Lincoln Park, Seahurst and Des Moines Beach Park, July 2, 11-2:30; July 3, 11:30-3; July 4, 12:30-3:30

I’m sure there’s more! Please share other opportunities through comments.

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets and videos, email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.


Terrific tides and Bremerton’s Lions Park

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Thanks to some of the summer’s lowest tides, there’s great fun on the beaches this week. I’ll put a few events below. If you know of others, please add them as comments. I also wanted to recommend one of my favorite local beaches.

Beach goers exploring Lion's Park's broad gravel beach at low tide. Photo: Jeff Adams

The fast currents that rush through Bremerton’s Port Washington Narrows (the shallow, narrow waterway that connects Dyes Inlet to Sinclair Inlet) create excellent habitat for diverse sea life. Lion’s Park (sometimes called Lebo Field or Lebo Recreation Area) is on the north side of the Narrows and just northwest of downtown Bremerton.

I’m sure I’ll come back to this park in later blogs, but it will be particularly good viewing the next couple days while the tides are around -3.0 and the edge of the kelp bed is exposed. The City of Bremerton has also done some amazing reworking of the park to improve shoreline habitat and reduce stormwater pollution. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Tides this week…

  • 6/14 Tues; -2.9 @ 10:30am (better hurry!)
  • 6/15 Wed; -3.1 @ 11:10
  • 6/16 Thurs; -3.0 @ Noon
  • 6/17 Fri; -2.6 ~12:40pm
  • 6/18 Fri; – 1.9 ~1:15
  • 6/19 Sun; -0.9 ~2:00

Peg Tillery, WSU Kitsap Extension Beach Watcher Coordinator sporting the Kitsap Beach Naturalist hat and the logo's inspiration (purple star Pisaster ochraceus). Lion's Park, Bremerton. Photo: Jeff Adams

Beach walks and such…

Kitsap Beach Naturalists
- will join Stillwaters Environmental Center at Kingston Marina and on the beach north of the Kingston Ferry Terminal, June 18, 12:30-2:30pm (Stillwaters will be there starting at 9:am)
- Fay Bainbridge Park, Bainbridge Island, WA, June 18, Noon-2:30pm
- Scenic Beach State Park, Seabeck, WA, June18, 1:00-3:00pm

Harbor WildWatch and Shellfish Partners
- Purdy Sand Spit on the shore of Henderson Bay off of Hwy 302 in Purdy, WA, June 18, Noon-4:00pm

South Sound Beach Naturalists
- Priest Point Park, June 18, 12:30pm – 3:30pm. and at
- Burfoot and Tolmie State Parks, June 19, 1:30pm – 4:30pm

Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalists are on a variety of east Sound Beaches
- Richmond Beach, Carkeek Park, Golden Gardens, South Alki, Lincoln Park, Seahurst and Des Moines Beach Park, June 14, 10-1; June 15, 10-2; June 16, 10-2; June 17, 10:30-2; June 18, 11:30-3; June 19, 12:30-3:30

Hope you get to enjoy some time on the shoreline! JEff

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets and videos, email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.


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